AUSTIN (KXAN) - Days away from the four-month anniversary of the Occupy Austin movement, the City of Austin is cracking down on the people who have been camping out on the steps of City Hall.
On Friday night, the City of Austin started enforcing a new City Hall use policy. The new policy limits non-City business activities in the plaza, amphitheater, and mezzanine to the hours of 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.
The process of removing protestors began peacefully Friday evening just before 10:00 p.m., but resulted in at least five arrests as protestors clashed with officers in riot gear.
According to a memo from City Manager Marc Ott, the City has had to make revisions to their use policy, in an effort to balance the interests of City residents in having access to the City Hall property for legitimate purposes with our need to manage the increasing problems at City Hall related to criminal activity, damage to City property, and health concerns.
"We have been making clear that what had been taking place here could not continue," said Assistant City Manager Michael McDonald. "We've been communicating with them that changes need to take place."
The City said they have been trying to come to a compromise with Occupy Austin regarding the use of the City Hall plaza and mezzanine but they say the Occupy Austin representatives were not interested.
"We're going to continue to occupy- they cannot get rid of us- we have a right to be there and we're going to continue to be there," said David Cortez, a member of Occupy Austin.
City officials said arresting people who resist would be an option of last resort but they are working to provide temporary shelter for this evening.
The new changes will limit the hours people can gather at City Hall and doing so will require a reservation.
@OccupyAustin tweeted : Anyone with a truck please come to city hall ASAP to help load our stuff up! Please hurry!
The changes to the City Hall building use policy are:
Effective on February 2, 2012, the following changes are made to City policy:
• Reservations are required for any organized non-City usage or group
event inside the City Hall building, and for the amphitheater and
mezzanine. Groups may reserve these areas under the current usage
• The plaza, amphitheater, and mezzanine continue to be designated as free
speech areas with the following limitations to protect public health, safety
and welfare, and to provide for the orderly conduct of City business.
• The plaza, mezzanine, and amphitheater areas may not be used for non-
City business or activities before 6 a.m. or after 10 p.m. This limitation
does not apply to an event that occurs while a public meeting of the City
Council or a City board or commission is ongoing in City Hall. The plaza,
mezzanine, or amphitheater areas may be closed at other times if Building
Services determines that closure is required for inspection, maintenance or
cleaning. A person may not interfere with inspection, maintenance or
cleaning of the property.
• Sleeping, camping, and the use or storage of sleeping equipment are
prohibited on the plaza, mezzanine, and amphitheater areas at all times.
Leaving unattended personal property on those areas is prohibited at all
times. A person may not erect a structure or tent on those areas without
prior written approval of Building Services as part of the reservation
• The plaza area may be reserved for non-City usage in accord with the
procedures in the building usage policy. Any such reserved usage will
take precedence over a non-reserved use.
• Access to the second and third floor balconies will continue to be
restricted to staff and invited guests of the Mayor, Council Members, or
The judge presiding over the trial to oust District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg ruled Wednesday that she'll stay in office.
Mack Brown’s longtime friend and attorney said Wednesday that the veteran coach of the Longhorns has not yet made a decision on his future, but that it will come soon.
The Austin City Council will take up billing errors and problems with the appeals process at Austin Energy during Thursday's meeting.
Options for high speed Internet in Austin continue to expand. Google Fiber is coming to Austin soon, and now AT&T has announced the city will be the first for its own faster-than-ever Internet speeds.
A 15-year-old girl told police she was abducted from the parking lot at Bastrop High School on Wednesday.
After hundreds of park-goers complained about a lack of off-leash dog space in the new design of Auditorium Shores, the Austin Parks and Recreation Board is hoping a compromise will alleviate any concerns.